EppsNet Archive: Work

Some Links on Effective Communication

18 Feb 2018 /

Busting myths on gender differences in the brain (Article)
Nora Caplan-Bricker, “The Idea of a ‘Male Brain’ and a ‘Female Brain’ Is Likely a Myth,” Slate, November 2, 2015.

Challenges and strategies for creating safe communication spaces at work (Article)
James R. Detert and Ethan R. Burris, “Can Your Employees Really Speak Freely?,” Harvard Business Review, vol. 94, no. 1 (January/February 2016): p. 80-87.

Communication comes in all shapes and sizes (Video)
Nancy Lublin, “Texting That Saves Lives,” TEDvideo, 5:24, February 2012.

Do men and women communicate differently? (Article)
Deborah Cameron, “What Language Barrier?,” The Guardian, October 1, 2007.

Find out the meaning behind emojis (Website)
Emojipedia.”

Game-changing communication developments (Article)
Amber Leigh Turner, “5 Trends Disrupting Communication,” TNW News.

How the medium of communications can change what we say (Article)
Tweets From Mobile Devices Are More Likely to Be Egocentric,” International Communications Association press release, October 1, 2015.

Leaders can change their power cues to open up discussions (Article)
James R. Detert and Ethan R. Burris, “Nonverbal Cues Get Employees to Open Up—or Shut Down,” Harvard Business Review, December 11, 2015.

Parent/adult child bond increased with number of communication tools (Article)
Heidi Stevens, “Tech-Savvy Parents Communicate Better with Adult Kids: Study,” Chicago Tribune, November 3, 2014.

Solid teams require people who can talk and organize (Video)
Nike Academy: Communication and Leadership,” YouTube video, 2:47, posted by “Nike Football,” Oct 2, 2014.

Tools to streamline internal work communications (Article)
Catherine Lawson, “Online Chatting at Work Gets the Thumbs Up From Bosses,” BBC News, November 27, 2015.

When language perpetuates discrimination (Article)
Tory Paez, “Goodbye Chatty Kathy,” Catalyzing, January 26, 2016.


More Links on Work-Life Balance

15 Feb 2018 /

Research behind the flexibility stigma (Article)
Tara Siegel Bernard, “The Unspoken Stigma of Workplace Flexibility,” New York Times, June 14, 2013.

Don’t become addicted to busy-ness (Article)
Christine Carter, “Achieve More by Doing Less,” Mindful, September 14, 2015.

Research about dual-centric workers (Report)
Families and Work Institute, Catalyst, and the Boston College Center for Work & Family, Leaders in a Global Economy: A Study of Executive Women and Men (2008).

Work-life integration (Video)
Stew Friedman, “How to Integrate Work, Home, Community and Self,” YouTube video, 19:53, posted by “KnowledgeAtWharton,” May 28, 2008.

Managing your life outside of work (Article)
Stew Friedman, “Keep Your Home Life Sane when Work Gets Crazy,” Harvard Business Review, February 23, 2015.

Research supports benefits of flex work (Article)
Adi Gaskell, “Why A Flexible Worker Is A Happy And Productive Worker,” Forbes, January 15, 2016.

Five simple tips to reduce the distraction and temptation of checking email all the time (Article)
Lily Herman, “How to Actually Stop Checking Your Email All the Time,” The Muse.

Does guilt have to be a part of flexible working? (Article)
Georgina Kenyon, “The Curse of Flexible Work,” BBC, September 9, 2016.

Work stress:  cultivate resilience (Article)
Judy Martin, “5 Daily Rituals to Manage Work Stress,” Forbes, December 26, 2012.

Making the most of your time (Article)
John Rampton, “15 Ways to Increase Productivity at Work,” Inc., February 4, 2015.

Unplugging: Tips on setting boundaries on work communication (Article)
Alison G. Walton, “Feeling Overconnected? 5 Reasons To Unplug From Technology After Work,” Forbes, February 6, 2013.


Nietzsche Cartoons

9 Feb 2018 /

Nietzsche comics


Some Links on Work-Life Balance

8 Feb 2018 /

Carol Bartz discusses the myth of work-life balance (Video)
Bartz Says ‘Work/Life’ Balance is a Myth,” Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2012.

Beyond policies: Office culture must change (Article)
Susan Dominus, “Rethinking the Work-Life Equation,” New York Times, February 25, 2016.

The problem may be long hours not work-family conflict (Article)
Robin Ely and Irene Padavic, “Work-Family Conflict is Not the Problem: Overwork Is,” Huffington Post, November 6, 2013.

Managing work and life is an increasingly global problem (Report)
EY, Global Generations: A Global Study on Work-Life Challenges Across Generations (2015).

We know flexibility works, the challenge is execution (Article)
Stew Friedman, “‘Having It All’ Is Not a Women’s Issue,” Harvard Business Review, June 26, 2012.

The best way forward (Article)
Gigi Liu, “From Work-Life Balance to Work-Life Integration– The New Way Forward,” Entrepreneur, March 31, 2016.

When and where you work is increasingly the norm for many professionals (Article)
Laura Vanderkam, “Work-life Balance is Dead — Here’s Why That Might Be a Good Thing,” Fortune, March 6, 2015.

Key benefits for work place flexibility for managers (Report)
WGEA, Briefing Note: About Workplace Flexibility (May 2015).

How to understand and request flexibility at work (Report)
WGEA, Employee Flexibility Toolkit (May 2015).

Guide for companies (Report)
World at Work, Seven Categories of Work-Life Effectiveness: Successfully Evolving Your Organizations Portfolio (2011).

Stories with insight into the new global workforce and the case for flexibility (Report).
Emily Cohen, Liz Mulligan-Ferry, and Jan Combopiano, Flex Works (Catalyst, 2013).

Updates on the most recent research on the economics of flexible workplace practices and policies (report).
The Council of Economic Advisors, Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility (June 2014).

HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector (website).
Workplaces That Work: Flexible Work Arrangements

A few pointers to manage career success and a positive personal life (article).
Christine Riordin, “Work-Life ‘Balance’ Isn’t the Point” Harvard Business Review (2013).

Thinking about a post-balance world (Article)
Balance is Bunk,” Fast Company, October 2004.

 


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

12 Jan 2018 /

Colleagues whose most conspicuous contribution to the workplace is to laugh irrepressibly at the boss’s jokes . . .

Laughing


Every Form of Harassment is Okay — Except One

28 Nov 2017 /

How did we decide that sexual harassment is the one category of workplace abuse, incidences of which require national outrage and loss of employment?

Ideally, we would all have the prudence and restraint not to make sexual advances toward people over whose career we hold sway, but it happens.

And yet we’ve all been harassed and ill-used in the workplace in other ways by someone more powerful, someone who negatively impacted our career by embarrassing us, intimidating us, undermining us, lying to us, lying about us, stealing the credit for our work . . . it goes on and on.

Rarely do negative consequences accrue to the harasser.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, for example, was known for being abrasive, dismissive, shouting down colleagues, blaming others when things didn’t work out and occasionally wrapping himself in glory that rightly belonged elsewhere.

Did this torpedo his career? Hardly. He’s an American icon.

(In other Pixar news, John Lasseter likes to hug people. He’s now a pariah.)

Bill Gates never hesitated to tell people how dumb they were and how stupid their ideas were. In spite of this, Gates also managed to have a good career.

You can fill in your own additional examples. There are plenty to choose from.

Like sexual harassment, the options for dealing with other forms of workplace harassment are 1) report it; 2) quit; 3) decide that you need or want the job enough to remain silent and take what’s dished out.

I’ve usually taken option 1 or 2. Maybe I would have had a better career with more frequent exercise of option 3 . . . false pleasantries toward people I didn’t like, faux respect toward people I didn’t respect . . .

Thus spoke The Programmer.


Our Most Valuable Asset

15 Nov 2017 /

The annual “People First” awards were given out at the office today. I don’t mean to be cynical but I was reminded of an old Dilbert comic . . .

Dilbert


Tech Gender Bias: Men Not as Concerned

24 Oct 2017 /

According to LinkedIn:

Despite a string of revelations that women in tech face considerable headwinds — from persistent gender-based pay gaps (per Bloomberg), to limited VC funding for female-led startups (per Fortune), to sexual harassment (per The New York Times) — just 29% of men say that discrimination is a major problem in the industry, according to data from Pew. In fact, some 32% of men claim that it’s not a problem at all.

Everything I read about gender discrimination in tech starts out by assuming it’s a real problem and that all reasonable people agree that it’s a real problem.

Even the supposedly objective LinkedIn blurb above tells us that 29% of men “say” that discrimination is a major problem, while 32% of men “claim” that it’s not a problem at all, “despite a string of revelations blah blah blah . . .”

I’ve worked in tech for 30 years . . . I say it’s not a problem but I’m open to an evidence-based argument that I’m wrong. (NB: “If you can’t see it, then you’re part of the problem” is not an evidence-based argument.)

 

Some possible evidence for gender discrimination:

Gender

Just look at the numbers. It’s a male-dominated industry.

Agreed, but that’s not prima facie evidence of discrimination.

I worked with a nursing organization for five years. Nursing, you may have noticed, is a female-dominated profession. During that time, I never heard one person mention gender bias in nursing. Never. In five years.

Most schoolteachers are women, most therapists are women, most social workers, most MFC counselors . . . I could go on with this but I think we both get the point: Have you ever heard anything about gender bias in any female-dominated profession? I haven’t.

Gender imbalance is not evidence of discrimination. Men and women are different and they choose to do different things. More women choose to be nurses and social workers and more men choose to be programmers.

Limited VC funding for female-led startups

VCs would love to fund more female-led startups, but again, men and women choose to do different things and more men choose to do startups.

Note that there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of women starting small businesses, but more men choose to pitch VC-funded startups.

Gender-based pay gaps

Gender-based pay gaps are not specific to the tech industry.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is not specific to the tech industry.

Online harassment

If you think online harassment is limited to women, you haven’t spent much time online. Standards of discourse are nonexistent. Civility is almost nonexistent.

Jump on Twitter for a few minutes and see how people talk to each other.

I’ve been interacting with people on the web for a couple of decades . . . some of the things people have said to me . . . it’s beyond upsetting . . . you can feel the blood draining out of your face as you’re reading it. It’s not limited to women.

Women are passed over for raises, promotions, plum projects, etc.

Yes . . . so are men. What’s your hypothesis? Men are passed over because they’re undeserving, while women are passed over just because they’re women?

 

TL;DR -> Women are capable of making decisions for themselves. For the most part, they choose to do things other than work in tech and do startups. So what?

Thus spoke The Programmer


What Does a Programmer Do?

8 Oct 2017 /

I was asked to give a talk last week to a high school computer science class on “What Does a Programmer Do?” (I’m indebted to Jim McCarthy for the “lords and ladies of logic” section.)

 

Programming is problem solving.

Programmer

At the highest level, the problem that programmers solve is that people want to be able to do things with computers that they can’t do. And by computers, I don’t mean just the kind of computers you have on the desks here, I mean phones, watches, cars . . . more and more different kinds of devices are running software.

So one good thing about being a programmer is that pretty much every field of endeavor now uses software and data.

You can work at a tech company like Microsoft or Google or Twitter or Facebook, but you can also work in healthcare, finance, education, sports . . . you can work on cancer research, you can write video games . . . everybody uses software and everybody hires programmers.

Programming is a good job if you want to be learning new things all the time, if you don’t want to do the same things over and over.

The dark side of this is that it can be daunting trying to keep up with the pace of technological change. It can be overwhelming.

I was asked once in an interview, “What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned in the last week?” If you haven’t learned anything in the last week, it’s hard to answer that question, let alone if you haven’t learned anything in a month or a year. It’s easy to let your career slip away from you.

Programming has been a good job for me because I’ve been able to make a living doing things I like and things that I’m good at. I’ve always liked solving problems and building things.

To me that’s a good job: you do things you like and things that you’re good at. I don’t think most people can say that. Most people seem to be like “I hate Mondays,” “Thank god it’s Friday,” “Thank god it’s Thursday because it’s almost Friday.” If you spend a lot of time doing things you don’t like and you’re not good at, that’s a bad job.

As a programmer, you’re given problems to solve and a set of tools with which to solve them. You need to be able to figure out “what do i need to do, what do I need to learn, to be able to solve these problems with these tools?”

Self-reliance is good. Persistence is good. Floundering is bad. Know when to ask for help.

Asking for help is a no-lose strategy. Worst case, you ask for help and someone can’t help you or won’t help you, but you’re not any worse off than you were in the first place.

The demand for programmers exceeds the supply and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.

Nearly 30 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map, and 25 percent of Americans think the sun goes around the earth. Those people are not going to be programmers.

In a time of ubiquitous software and intellectual lethargy, programmers are like the priests in the Middle Ages. We are the lords and ladies of logic. We’re in charge of rationality for our era. We’re bringing common sense and sound judgment and aggregated wisdom and glory to everyone.

That’s our job.


We’re Dreamers Too

6 Sep 2017 /

There are lots of people who went to school, worked hard, provided for our families, raised our kids, tried to do the right things . . . no one lionizes us but we’re dreamers too . . .

A Real American


To Young Women Considering a Career in Technology

30 Aug 2017 /

You’ve probably read a lot of articles about how sexist and awful the culture is for women in technology.

I think if anything deters young women from technology careers, it’s this glut of articles saying how sexist and awful the culture is.

Young female technologist

I’ve worked in software development for 30 years. In my experience — and feel free to discount this because I’m not a woman — the culture is not tough for women. If anything, men give women the benefit of the doubt because they’d like to have more women around.

As Holden Caulfield used to say, “I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even if they’re only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or something.”

Yes, I have seen bad things happen to women in tech, but I’ve seen bad things happen to men and I’ve had bad things happen to me. I’m also aware of bad things happening to women in other professions. We’ve all had our ups and downs.

How to explain this? Bad things happen to women because they’re women and bad things happen to men because — what? We deserve it?

You’ve probably also read a lot of articles about a “diversity chasm” in tech, usually written by women who work in tech and can’t understand why every young woman in America is not making the same career choices they themselves have made.

Women, like any group, are under-represented in some professions (like tech) and over-represented in other professions — education and health services, for example.

Is a software engineering career objectively better than being a nurse or a teacher or a therapist or any of the careers that women seem to prefer?

I’m happy to admit that I don’t know what the “right” male-female ratio is for any given profession and that I don’t know what other people should be doing with their lives.

Programming has been a pretty good career for me — I like to build things and I like to solve hard problems — but I’ve spent most of my life alone in a room or cubicle staring at a computer screen. It’s not for everyone. There are pros and cons like any other job.

I don’t have a daughter but my son never took an interest in programming and I never pushed him to do so. He graduated college with a degree in business. I have no reason to think his life will be less fulfilling because he’s not working in a technology job.

TL;DR:

  • Don’t pursue a technology career because someone else thinks you should.
  • Don’t pursue a technology career to make some point about gender roles in society.
  • Don’t be scared off by inaccurate (IMO) generalizations about anti-female culture.
  • Follow your heart.

Thus spoke The Programmer.


American Workplace: Grueling, Stressful and Surprisingly Hostile?

15 Aug 2017 /

Washington (AP) — The American workplace is grueling, stressful and surprisingly hostile.

So concludes an in-depth study of 3,066 U.S. workers by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles. Among the findings:

— Nearly one in five workers — a share the study calls “disturbingly high” — say they face a hostile or threatening environment at work . . .

If nearly one in five US workers finds their workplace hostile or threatening, that means more than 4 in 5 workers do not find their workplace hostile or threatening.

Assuming these two groups are not in completely separate workplaces, does this finding say something about the workplace or about the people who perceive a hostility that a large majority of their colleagues do not perceive?

Another finding:

— Telecommuting is rare: 78 percent say they are required to be present in their workplace during working hours.

Notice that in this case, 22 percent of workers doing something — telecommuting — is considered “rare,” while less than 20 percent perceiving a hostile environment is considered “disturbingly high.”


Remote Work on the Decline

27 Jul 2017 /

According to LinkedIn:

IBM, Aetna, Reddit, and Bank of America are among a growing list of companies slashing remote work policies. It’s not because employees working from home are less productive; rather, many companies think in-person collaboration just can’t be beat.

I get that. It’s easier to work with people in the same room than with people at some distant point in time and space.

But I can’t help noticing that there are more companies willing to hire hordes of itinerant trainees in a foreign land to write important software (i.e., “outsourcing”), than to let employees write software 15 minutes from the office in their own home.


How to Tell If You’re Too Busy

17 Sep 2016 /

A colleague shared this on Slack:

Busy Guy

It’s a slide from a presentation given by somebody somewhere . . . it’s hard to read but the gist of it is:

In the past, I’ve worked every holiday, on my birthday, my spouse’s birthday, and even on the day my son was born.

I asked the guy who shared it, “How do the birthdays fit in there? I don’t even remember when my spouse’s birthday is, but I certainly didn’t work on the day my son was born.”

“I think he meant on the nights of the birthdays,” was the reply.

“Was he working on the night his son was conceived? I bet he was. He seems like a very busy guy.”


Who Does Amazon Fresh?

17 Jul 2016 /

Our office uses Amazon Fresh to get food delivered, so when a colleague posts “Who does Amazon Fresh again?” on the messaging system, what he means is “Remind me who is responsible for placing the Amazon Fresh orders.”

Here is the actual answer: “I think it’s a company started by Amazon the online retailer.”


Is Tech Addiction Making Us Far More Stressed at Work?

27 Jun 2016 /

I like this juxtaposition of links on themuse.com. “Is Tech Addiction Making Us Far More Stressed at Work?” sandwiched in-between links to 25 Chrome extensions and 10 apps that you must have in your life right now>

Is tech addiction making us more stressed?


Apple Employee Found Dead at Company Headquarters

30 Apr 2016 /

Apple employee found dead at company headquartersCNN Money

I have never known anyone who died at work, although I’ve seen a couple of close calls.

My dad died of a heart attack at home on a Monday morning when he normally would have gone to work. If he’d been able to hang in there a few more hours, he could have died at the office.

I also worked with a fellow quite a few years ago who was in the office on Friday and died over the weekend. We heard about it on Monday. It wasn’t super shocking because he was an older man and not in the peak of health. He looked like John Huston with one day to live.

That was a terrible company. I remember thinking, “Well, at least he doesn’t have to come to work today.”

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Dad vs. Stupidity

14 Apr 2016 /

I overheard one of my colleagues saying to another, “My dad is really opposed to any kind of stupidity.”

I passed that along to my own son: “If you want to describe me in that way — ‘My dad is opposed to stupidity in all forms’ — it’s okay with me. I mean, you don’t have to if you’re not feeling it but I can think of worse ways to be remembered.”


Overheard (Slack Version)

1 Apr 2016 /

Employee X [8:55 AM]
I bumped the HVAC up one degree for the entire office. Got a few comments about it being too cold yesterday. Let me know how today is y’all.

Employee Y [9:18 AM]
half a degree too warm

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Overheard

28 Mar 2016 /

Overheard


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